Remembering Michael Brecker

Remembering Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker

My Highschool had was a music ‘listening room’ with a bunch of tapedecks, record players, reel-to-reels and library of jazz records and tapes. It was a hidden and underutilized place. Only me and a few other megamusicnerds ever used it and I was usually in there completely alone. I used to hide out in there to wearing headphones in the dark to avoid the wrestling unit in gym and anything else I thought was uncivilized and humiliating. One of my favorites discoveries from these secret escapes was Brecker Bothers self-titled 1975 album. What was this? Jazz? funk? I’d never heard anything like but I felt it was crazy cool music. I clearly needed to get to know these Brecker brothers. I was trying to figure out not only how jazz ‘worked’ as a language and, like any teenager. I was also trying to figure out what kinds of music I was into. I trusted my newfound Jazz idols to help steer me through the miasma. If a jazz musician that I liked was credited as a session player on a record, [ANY record] that was generally a good reason to buy it used and check it out. Michael Brecker was one my favorites for this game of musical treasure hunting. I would spend a lot of time at used record stores looking for stuff that he played on. It didn’t matter what the artist was – I was looking at the sideman credits. I found some great pop music this way – following the Brecker trail. Franz Zappa, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, the list is endless. I also discovered Steps. Steps served as proof to me that it was possible to create something like fusion that has some balls and didn’t sound like hotel lobby background music. I wore those records out. My adult relationship with Michael Brecker has been more focused on his own recordings. The quality of these records is almost universally phenomenal. If you have not any Michael Brecker albums, you really should pick one up. Start with this one and proceed. There is one final album coming out in a few months that Michael managed to record last summer even though he was pretty sick. Based on the little snippet I was fortunate enough to hear it is a thrilling and moving final performance and I am looking forward to hearing the rest.


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